Thursday, July 2, 2020

July Shelter-In-Place Open Readings (Page 5)

It's July!!! This is Page Five of our exciting Cholla Needles Open Readings while sheltering-in-place. Each preceding page has approx 20 great videos.

Click here to visit our first page 
AND click here to visit page two 
AND click here to visit page three
AND click here to visit page four 

YOU are welcome to submit your video to this page. As the videos come in, I will add them to this page and update it. If you are a poet who wishes to have your work added to this page, send a link of yourself reading to editor(at)chollaneedles.com - replace the (at) with the symbol @. This keeps the robotic spam out of my email box. Thanks!

GREAT NEWS: Space Cowboy Books In Joshua Tree has shelter-in-place readings posted also!!! Click here to see them all.


Susan Abbott reading "A Celebration"


Tobi Alfier reading "Guardian"


Anum Sattar reading “You See Through Me, I See Through You”


Bruno Talerico reading "Desert Dragon"


Doreen Oberg reading from "Mile Markers"


Alex O'Meara reading from "Uganda"


Mark T. Evans reading "Repairs Of The Heart"


Tobi Alfier reading "The Language of Women"


Zola reading "Just A City Girl"


Bruno Talerico reading "Two Poems"


Tobi Alfier reading "High Tea"


Carrie Miller reads an "On The Road" story




Monday, May 25, 2020

Open Readings while sheltering in place 4

This is Page Four of our exciting Cholla Needles Open Readings while sheltering-in-place. Click here to visit our first page which has over 20 other great videos. AND click here to visit page two AND click here to visit page 3 after visiting what we have in store for you below.

Our poets are finding ways to communicate since we are unable to hold open-air readings yet. As the videos come in, I will add them to this page and update it. If you are a poet who wishes to have your work added to this page, send a link of yourself reading to editor(at)chollaneedles.com - replace the (at) with the symbol @. This keeps the robotic spam out of my email box. Thanks!

GREAT NEWS: Space Cowboy Books In Joshua Tree has shelter-in-place readings posted also!!! Click here to see them all.



Richard C. Rutherford reading "Perseids"


Susan Abbott reading two poems by Muriel Rukeyser




Tim Robbins performing "Surfer Boy"
Happy Pride Month!!!




Francene Kaplan reading The Girl In The Box At The Dump
videography by Bill Almas





Greg Gilbert reading "Justice Is My Momma"




Mike Vail reading "History In The Making"


Maura Atwood reading
"Watching the Battle Reenactment"


Starflower Thomson presents
"Ladybug Alights On A Cholla Needle"
a single-cell video


Brenda Morisse reading "traffic of our ululations"


Dave Benson reading "El Dorado"


John Sierpinski reading "Night, Venice Beach, California"


Joe Garcia performing My Dear Virgil 


Mark T. Evans reading "This Day On Earth"




Maura Atwood reading "cellphone"


Laurie Byro reads Three Poems








r soos performs "All That Time"


Gram & Emmylou perform Don & Phil


Gram & Emmylou perform The Angels Rejoiced Last Night


Gram & Emmylou perform In My Hour Of Darkness



Emmylou performs Sweet Old World


Tom Russell Performs Joshua Tree




Sunday, May 24, 2020

Tobi Alfier - I Really Want a Pastrami Sandwich



Three things happened this past week:

  1. Two different publishers told me they weren’t getting enough submissions from women,

  1. A Facebook friend told me she felt guilty writing when so many bad things are happening to so many good people, and

  1. I sat down to write my blog post and wrote a poem instead.
Believe it or not, these all tie in to each other.

It’s not just women who are now stuck at home. Men are too. And yes, there’s home schooling, baking bread, jigsaw puzzles bigger than your house, and if you’re like me, piles of books and magazines all over, just waiting to be read. And there are the regular things we have too: animals to be walked, art, music, writing, and so on. Oh yeah…laundry.

Even though not everyone is a submitting poet, especially now it seems like women are submitting less than before. The two publishers I spoke with publish two very different journals, so it’s fair to say across the board, that women aren’t submitting as much. Don’t forget about including this in your day. It’s true that universities are closed, and publishers seem to take longer with reduced staffs, but not every one of the 23,000 journals out there are published by universities. Submissions are being read every day!

Even university journals are reading electronically but it’s hard to know when they’ll be publishing.

You may feel the same as my Facebook friend. So many bad things are happening to good people—she feels she doesn’t deserve to be worried about a “silly acceptance or rejection”. But she does. We all do. I really think we are all trying to do as much as we can, and think about it – someone sees your name in a journal and they like your work, so they buy the journal online from the local independent bookstore…

That helps pay the light bill, the rent, the taxes.  By us NOT putting our lives on hold, we continue to help, without even knowing.

I have no excuse for writing a poem instead of working on this blog post. I’d only written two poems in May but I wrote five in April, and that’s not the point. When poems want to come out, they have to. I keep up with the news, but I’ve made a point to avoid it for poems. I personally cannot write a political poem without it sounding like a news article, and I won’t do it. So a poem called “Church and Plums”??? Pray God it gets published someday and I’ll be able to post it here.

I Really Want a Pastrami Sandwich

Years ago, our power went out and my son mentioned he had an essay due in school.

Was the laptop charged?

Yes

Well why don’t you write the essay on your laptop?

No.

Wrong answer. He was mad at me, but I said just open to a new page and write “my mom is making me write this and I don’t want to”, and see what comes out. He started writing. And writing. And writing. And even though he was still mad at me, he wrote his essay.

Flash forward ten or fifteen years. We were talking the other day and he said “mom, I still start off all my writing assignments the same exact way”.

Really? By saying my mom is making me do this?

No. I open to a new document and type “I really want a pastrami sandwich”

Whatever works. He’s a better writer than I am and he gets good grades; let him eat all the pastrami he wants!!

With the park open and the start of Memorial Day weekend, I hope some of you are getting in some safe walks, fresh air, and inspiration. You are allowed to be kind to yourself. I know that writing a poem, a piece of flash, doing art worthy of journal covers (see Susan Abbott’s covers on Cholla Needles #40 & #42), and submissions worthy of publication (see Jeff’s poems and the others in issue #42 as well) does not take away from the concerns and good works we are doing for others in these terrible times.

Not every creative piece has to be about the pandemic. A poem can be about “Church and Plums”. Rich just completed Page 3 of online poetry readings (each page is two hours - Page 4 starts this week). Check them out on the Cholla Needles website and add one of your own, on any subject! If you are a submitting writer, submit your work. It’s okay. It’s necessary. It will help the journals, the publishers, all down the line. And if your local deli is open for takeout and you’re not a vegetarian? Grab a pastrami sandwich! xo

- - - -


Tobi Alfier's most recent collection of poetry is Slices Of Alice. She is also co-editor with Jeff Alfier of the San Pedro River Review. Don't miss Tobi's columns on the craft of poetry: insert your email address in the "Follow By Email" box to the right of this article and you'll be notified every time a new article appears.


Monday, May 18, 2020

Open Readings while sheltering in place 3

This is Page Three of our exciting Cholla Needles Open Readings while sheltering-in-place. Click here to visit our first page which has over 20 other great videos. AND click here to visit page two after enjoying page 3 below=:-)

Our poets are finding ways to communicate since we are unable to hold open air readings yet. As they come in, I will add them to this page and update it. If you are a poet who wishes to have your work added to this page, send a link of yourself reading to editor(at)chollaneedles.com - replace the (at) with the symbol @. This keeps the robotic spam out of my email box. Thanks!









Dawn Davis interviews Zara Kand











M. T. Evans reading "The New Pandemic"


Tamara Hattis reading "False Hope" (with help from Emily)


Isabela Olson-Morales reading "Waiting"


Brenda Morisse reading "on the street where I live"


Laurie Byro reading three poems









as a beautiful example of art
created while in isolation


Phog Masheeen Live on ZOOM 05-17-20
Mark Soden and Francene Kaplan
Francene also reads from her new book: 






The listeners interview Dawn Davis, host of Desert Lady Diaries


- - - -

We hope you are enjoying Open Readings while sheltering in place Page Three as much as we are. We will continue to add to this page as long as folks are interested in submitting material. In the meantime:

Click here to visit Open Readings while sheltering in place Page One

Click here to visit Open Readings while sheltering in place Page Two



Sunday, May 17, 2020

Brenda Littleton - Breakfast and Bukowski

Water Dream by Brenda Littleton
May 4, 2020

            “Understand me. I’m not like an ordinary world. I have my madness. I live in another dimension and I do not have time for things that have no soul.” Charles Bukowski.
           
            Bukowski lived around the corner from a breakfast cafe, where I'd often spend my mornings eating huevos rancheros and drinking boiled espresso. San Pedro in the '80s was still edgy with a thriving dock life, grunge bars, Slavonic bakeries, and a milieu of other Mexican, Greek, Sushi, English Pubs and Beach eateries. The Waters Club was cheap rehearsal space for local bands by day, and at night the South Bay's best let fly an incubated rock frenzy, the kind of lineage of Mad Max meets Nirvana meets Fleetwood Mac: Sensuous hard rock on the water, the kind you'd play on the backside of Catalina Island holding a bottle of tequila close for the night.


            There was a flavor of Gaffey Street, 5th & 6th Avenue. Frame shops, art and antique galleries, tattoo parlors and the Army Surplus lived at the hem of the port town. The smell of piss, fog, sake, hot cinnamon buns, and fish lingered well after dawn. Along the esplanade, the Merchant Marine retirement home welcomed men from an earlier way, where the life-miles of these seafarers were logged in with weigh points, knots, datum notes, and types of water visibility. I fell in love with a blues guitarist in Sacred Grounds coffee club. Across the street was the Warner Grand Theatre, where I once danced as a ten-year-old ballerina. Lee Michaels, the rock-blues organist (Stormy Monday), had bought the venue as his private residence, and hibernated inside like the phantom of the opera.

            Somehow during this time, the Warner Grand showed newly released feature films, and Charles Bukowski would go and watch them. I'd imagine him sloughed down into the red velvet seats, smelling of vanilla tobacco and stubble. The next morning, he would hang a chalkboard out of his second story, cream clapboard apartment window, with his rating of the film. Ten was the best, as was an exclamation mark. Most films came in with a three or a four. I always took heed of his critiques. I'd look for them, and I know my decision to eat at that cafe was based on being close to Bukowski. So, when I'd get out of my car early morning, into the receding fog, wearing flip flops and a hoodie, I'd look up to just catch a glimpse of his hand tossing the board out of his window. It was attached by an old lanyard, something off the docks. I often saw his hand moving from one world back into his private reality. I remember thinking of the metaphors that swam around him in my mind: of him giving me a 'hand-out'. I learned to understand his gestures: if he haphazardly tossed the chalkboard out where it clapped against the side, then I knew the rating was low. If he carefully positioned the board in a quiet way, the rating was high.

            His life of soul and madness and writing lingers in me as I remember not only my life in San Pedro, but today's anniversary of Kent State, of the golden era of L. A. music, of a time of innocence.

- - -


The artwork, Water Dream is an original piece by Brenda LittletonWriter, poet, professor, literacy of place, Jungian archetypal psychology, equine psychology, alchemy, dream-tending, community, meaning-making, working with gold, silver threads and silk. Born the backside of Vancouver Island; renewed on the black beach of Santorni; risen from ashes in Aguanga; tenderly unfolded in Topanga, busting wide high with inner sky in Joshua Tree.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Tobi Alfier - Compliments


Some of Cholla Needles Library
A post today to remind everyone that compliments are more than just a heart emoji on Facebook. And everyone needs compliments. It’s not about ego. It’s not about narcissism. It’s about recognizing lovely things people do, and saying you appreciate them.

Examples:

Rich has a library with four hundred volumes in it. Some are classics. Some are contemporary. His library is open for browsing, and check-outs, something we can’t really do right now. He gets a big thanks for having this library available to all of us. 

Cindy Rinne is a beautiful textile artist. She had some work in a gallery, and at least twice last week I saw a piece on Facebook with a big “Sold” sign. That’s awesome!!!! You already know I’m not creative at all. My idea of textile art is a macramé planter with a dead plant in it. I must confess Cindy got the heart emoji from me, but my aunt is an artist too; I know how hard it is to sell work. Congratulations Cindy!

Last week was the 14th annual Peace Conference on Zoom. There was a lot of poetry and art by friends of Cholla Needles and friends of Long Beach. Kelsey Bryan-Zwick did a lot of the announcing on Facebook. She’s a lovely artist and poet, and has graced several issues of Cholla Needles with her poetry. John and Ann Brantingham took part in it as well. Ann drew a beautiful leaf throughout the event. John read poetry. A big, beautiful thank you to everyone involved in this.

Every day we read heartfelt and lovely anniversary and birthday messages. I only know about the ones on Facebook. A dinosaur that I am, I know nothing about Instagram or Twitter. I do know that our woman of every skill in the world, Mia Torres, said she likes shiny things. She posted a beautiful birthday message to Susan Rukeyser this week. (This week? Last week? I don’t even know what day it is). A very happy birthday to Susan, and Mia? Thank you for such a beautiful tribute. It was much nicer than the little Facebook reminder. I toast you both with a glass of that gorgeous red Susan Abbott found on the cover of the cookbook in her new house.

Susan Abbott, thank you for sharing pictures of your new house with us. And your newly found cookbook!! It’s so nice to hear you sound happy, and to see the beautiful pictures you post. I keep thinking that one is the Venus of Willendorf, she is so beautiful!

Clearly I don’t know the difference between a thank you, and a compliment. Before I list my own, one time I took a weekend class at UCLA with a writer friend of mine. The instructor was Carolyn See.

Carolyn said once a week we should pick a writer we like, and let them know how much we like them. Writers get reviews, and the odd reader review on Amazon, but to have an actual person reach out to you and tell them you like their work—that’s priceless. She’d been doing it for years.

Of course I raised my hand and said that I liked Howard Norman, the writer of The Bird Artist. I knew he was married to the poet Jane Shore, and I’d met him at the Tomales Bay Writer’s Workshop. There was no way to reach him. He had no website. All I knew was a lot of writers, including Howard Norman, went to Rainbow Sweets Bakery in Marshfield, VT.

No, I was not going to Vermont to stake out Rainbow Sweets (now temporarily closed). Carolyn’s other suggestion was that I send a bouquet of flowers for him there. Uh, also no. I wasn’t in LOVE with him, I just liked his writing.

But her point was a good one. If there’s a writer you like, try and reach out to them. It doesn’t happen that often and it’s so appreciated. Years ago, Jeff was stationed in Qatar. He’d already started writing, and he struck up an email correspondence with Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, now an associate professor of English at the University of Oklahoma. She sent him a bunch of books. You can imagine how much that meant to both of them. 

I’ve started emailing writer friends of Jeff who I like a lot. I’m sure they think I’m weirder than weird, but they’ve all been very nice to me. At some point I usually tell them Jeff and I don’t write the same, and I offer to send them a book. They are usually very kind, and send me their addresses. I’m very shy, but somehow it’s easier to write someone than talk to them in person. Someday I’ll tell you my Nick Flynn and Pete Fromm stories. Oh lord.

So it’s definitely something to think about. I email an elderly writer friend of Jeff’s from time to time. He mentioned that he has about 800 “friends” on Facebook but he hardly ever hears from anyone. I explained about that (expletive) algorithm, and that I forget to look up people if they’re not on my newsfeed; I’m sure it’s the same with his friends too. I felt so sad. It really reminded me to go look for people!!

Tobi’s thank yous and compliments:

Some of Cholla Needles Library
A good-natured thank you to my mom for proving me a big liar. The other day she made homemade butternut squash ravioli with browned butter, sage and pine nuts, causing my dad to stop cooking. My whole blog post about my dad is now a big lie. He probably already canceled his food magazine subscriptions.

Thank you to my mom for bugging me for years to publish “Slices of Alice”. I’ll never forget when Rich wrote me “your mom is right”. That’s how “Slices of Alice & Other Character Studies” came to be born.

Thanks to all of you for reading these posts. Please remember that I do read the comments; if there’s anything you want to know or anything you’d like me to write about, please let me know. I really and truly consider this blog to be all of ours.

I hope you had a Happy Mother’s Day, even if it was on Zoom, or a drive-by like Rich had with his mother-in-law. Don’t forget, everyone needs a bit of appreciation here and there. And bacon. And candy. Oh kidding, that’s me. Write well. Make beautiful art. Lots of windows are opening up soon, even if schools are closed. And some journals read year-round. Many are looking for art as well as good writing. Be safe and kick butt! xo

- - - -


Tobi Alfier's most recent collection of poetry is Slices Of Alice. She is also co-editor with Jeff Alfier of the San Pedro River Review. Don't miss Tobi's columns on the craft of poetry: insert your email address in the "Follow By Email" box to the right of this article and you'll be notified every time a new article appears.


Monday, May 11, 2020

Open Readings while sheltering in place 2

This is Page Two of our exciting Cholla Needles Open Readings while sheltering-in-place. Click here to visit our previous page which has over 20 other great videos.

Our poets are finding ways to communicate since we are unable to hold open air readings yet. As they come in, I will add them to this page and update it. If you are a poet who wishes to have your work added to this page, send a link of yourself reading to editor(at)chollaneedles.com - replace the (at) with the symbol @. This keeps the robotic spam out of my email box. Thanks!


Cynthia Anderson reading "Ode To A Pear"




Susan Abbott reading "Poem for Susan Rukeyser" =:-)


Ernest Alois reading "Desert Saloon"






George Howell reading "@This"


Miri Hunter reading "A Lesson In Economics"




Ginny Short reading "Three Tanka"



Pat Kearns performing "Low Wind Howling"



Dave Maresh reading "A Glow In The Pink Hours"


Richard Risemberg reading "This Box Of Souls"






Timothy Robbins reads three poems




Ernest Alois reading "Freedom Road"






Timothy Robbins reads three poems


Dave Maresh reading "Yosemite"


Miri Hunter reading "Illusions"




Ernest Alois reading "Lost Lenses"




Timothy Robbins reads two poems


Phog Masheeen and Skunk Puppet Shelter-In-Place Livestream 5/9/2020

Phog Masheeen is Mark Soden Jr and Francene Kaplan

Skunk Puppet is Eric Strauss